This book is an utterly fascinating take on superheroes. The concepts are so well-developed and believable that I’d be surprised if things didn’t actually work that way. It’s basically a character study involving trauma, super powers, and questionable morals. No side is made out to be the good side or the bad side–they’re both terrible, it’s just difficult to decide which one is worse.
And oh, it is so good.
Every character is given the attention they deserve from the narrative, but it leaves enough open to interpretation. I found myself drawing on elements from the story and expanding them in my head, coming up with ideas that weren’t explicitly mentioned but were definitely implied just subtly enough. The characters were made out to be distant, almost inhuman, but the characteristics they showed even when lacking any sense of empathy or fear still helped me to relate to them and see how yes, this could be me.
Reading about their super powers was enjoyable and exciting, and the non-linear storytelling did well in keeping some secrets but not being too vague. At first it was a one-sided story with little explanation of the true motives of the other side, but at the halfway point it delved straight into the other side and why they did what they did.
The hours drawing towards the climax increased in intensity and the climax itself was no disappointment. I feel like that was the moment when the superhero inspiration it drew from comics and movies showed through, because I can easily picture it on a big screen.
All in all, the characterization, plot, and concept were all very well delivered and the blurred line between good and evil was intriguing and perfect for the story. This book is very worthy of your time and money, and I recommend it heartily as well as all of V. E. Schwab’s other books, of course.
MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:
Cathexis, which means a concentration of mental energy into one specific thing.